by Emily Huling, CIC, CMC
Retirements, company restructuring, and growing businesses are launching new leaders and managers. Both new and experienced managers face modern-day management issues. Those include remote employees, flex-time workers, video and telephone meetings, different time zones, workforce diversity, and 24/7 access to work. Here are some quick tips to be an effective and supportive manager in today’s world.
1. Manage work. Develop people. Make these principles your watchwords.
2. Give people something to work toward, not just work on. Be concise about corporate and department goals, values, and metrics.
3. Listening is your most effective tool. Don’t assume you need to step in, solve a problem, or offer an opinion. After focused listening ask, “How can I help?” The answer will guide your response.
4. Personal friendships with direct reports are best kept outside the office. Perceived favoritism can lead to ill will from other associates.
5. A structured new-employee orientation is critical for success. To engage and enlighten the new hire: a personal welcome by a top leader, an assigned coordinator, a review of standard office protocols, job shadowing throughout the company, as well as specific job training.
6. Boost employee problem solving by asking these questions: “What do you think?” “What’s the benefit or downside to doing that?” “How would that work?”
7. Don’t send employees e-mail or text messages at night. It adds unnecessary stress and expectations. Create a draft and send it in the morning. Everyone needs down time.
8. When poor performers and substandard work are not addressed in an organization, it’s the top performers who leave.
9. Any more than six direct reports are too many. Rethink the reporting structure to create supervisors or lead people who will manage work, monitor results, and report progress or gaps.
10. If you think your age or gender is an obstacle in effectively doing your job, understand that it’s your baggage, not your employees. Get over it and be a great manager.
11. Remote workers have the same organizational responsibilities as on-site workers. Make certain technology provides reliable support. Keep communication open and frequent. Initiate two or three brief phone meetings a week. Include off-site workers in all staff meetings no matter how brief.
12. Use flip charts. Meetings dramatically improve, discussions move forward, and actions can be assigned when ideas are posted on paper charts (not dry erase boards). Paper is permanent and you can refer back.
13. When in the office, individual and upbeat morning greetings set the tone for the day. Don’t leave anyone out.
14. Formally assign backup staff for all jobs at all times, not just for vacation. This encourages teamwork, ensures work gets done, and clients are served.
15. Handle sensitive issues with care. Avoid e-mail, meet in person, and pay attention to body language. Have another manager present if appropriate.
16. Don’t believe what others tell you about your employees. Get proof. Observe.
17. Take the career development aspect of your role seriously. When you help others achieve their goals, they will help you achieve yours.
Emily Huling, CIC, CMC helps the insurance industry create top-performing sales and service organizations. She can be contacted at email@example.com. She’s a frequent presenter at industry conferences, on the national faculty of the Society of CIC, and is the author of “Great Service Sells”, “Selling from the Inside”, and “Kick Your ‘But.’” For information on her products and consulting services and to subscribe to her free monthly newsletter, visit www.sellingstrategies.com.